September of last year (2011), DH and I thought it would be fun to throw a black tie dinner for our friends--everyone could get dressed to the nines and have a lovely night out. It would be about 15-20 people, so we wanted to do something like rent a private room at a nice restaurant. The only consideration was that we needed an all vegetarian prix fixe menu--we wanted either a soup or salad (preferable soup since it's winter), at least one main course option (though we'd have preferred two), and a dessert. Our tentative date was January 7, so starting the first week of October seemed like plenty of time. I started calling a few places to ask about the possibility of doing our dinner there, and narrowed it down to three places. Two were local restaurants, one was a hotel in the next town over that had the most gorgeous room you've ever seen (can you tell which I was leaning toward?).
When I spoke to each, I made it clear that we were just interested in pricing/menu options at this point--though both restaurants had us "book it" as a reservation, just so that noone else could take the date while they were getting back to me. The restaurants assured me that they would contact me with menu options/pricing in a few weeks. Since I was speaking to them first week of October, I figured this meant that I'd get info back by mid/late November. The hotel told me they'd contact me with the info the following week.
Suffice it to say, none of this happened. Since I was most interested in the hotel, I only actively pursued them. I called back after two weeks (so a week after I should have gotten a call), and was told that the chef had had to go out of town, but that she (the catering saleslady) had a meeting with him about it the next day. I then heard nothing. In November, I called four times--twice I left a voicemail on her answering machine, twice I spoke with another person in the department who promised me that if Original Saleslady couldn't call me back that day, they would. No calls back. I finally got an unapologetic call in December telling me a lacklustre menu that didn't have any of the things we'd asked for. I told them at that point that, due to their service, I would not be hosting our event there.
I never heard back from one of the restaurants. Today I got an E-mail from the second "confirming" our reservation so that they could finish planning the menu options--the options they were supposed to have contacted me with about 1-2 months ago now.
So, if you're still with me, is this normal for trying to host a small event at a restaurant or hotel? Is it always pulling teeth, or is there some crucial step I should have said/done to make this more seamless? As it is, we just gave up on the idea altogether, but I'd like to actually go through with it one day.